In this life, the only thing you own, is you.
Today I meant to write about something uplifting, but that was before the onslaught of this week and the case of Cyntoia Brown.
For those unaware, see here for the complete article.
Twenty-nine-year-old Cyntoia Brown has been locked up in a Tennessee prison for 13 years, after she was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the killing of a man who hired her as a prostitute when she was 16.
At trial, Brown’s lawyers argued she was a runaway who was raped, abused and forced into prostitution by a man known as “Kut Throat.” She will be eligible for parole after she turns 69.
I saw her documentary on her a few years ago and was astounded. The documentary was on YouTube. Before reading further, I suggest you view it.
I know you may be thinking this deviates from my topic of influence this month, but I assure you it doesn’t. Influence is only as potent or insidious as those who wield it. The more I looked at this story (before Kim Kardashian sent her lawyer after it), the more my heart grieved for her.
“Kut Throat” used his adult influence on a then 16 year old girl to force her into prostitution. In new millenium terms, we would call this sex trafficking.
He sold a 16-year-old girl for sex to the highest bidder. He put a child in an adult position by sheer force of will–ergo ill influence.
After she was violated by all these paying monsters, “Kut Throat” pimped her. A John took her to his home to have sex with her. When she thought she was reaching for a gun, she shot and killed him. She took his guns and whatever money he had and ran.
Now, should she have killed him?
Was he going to let her go?
We will never know.
The dirty fact is this: she did what she had to in order to live. With all she had endured, all Kut Throat did to her, on top of her life before the pimp found her–Is unbelievable. However, this nation likes its black girls docile or ratchet. Controllable and predictable or whorish and savage.
The favorite is the silent, suffering mammy.
The incredible thing? She now wants to use all that has happened to her to help everyone whom will listen. She wants to tell what happened to her so that the same trick that trapped her will not ensnare someone else.
Now, the third tier of this influence is the legal system–a system never designed to benefit or serve women, people of color or immigrants or the poor–God help you if you intersect any of these.
The legal system saw Cyntoia Brown like many of us see feral cats: Something for someone else to deal with and when dealing with them, do so harshly so there will be no others like those. The legal system decided her life was inconsequential and irredeemable in the face of all that had happened to her, so they decided to throw her away. The influence, the power and sway of the rule of law, let those in power do as the mob wished with her.
There has been new effort for her release and I am overjoyed. She deserves a chance at life and to impart and yes, to live. If all you own in this life is you, then whom are other folk to tell you whom you are or the limits of what you can become?
Ms. Cyntoia Brown #410593
Tennessee Prison for Women
Unit 1 West, D-49
3881 Stewarts Lane
Nashville, TN 37218